Lloyd Castle and his family do not usually get enough rain, but for 125 years they have recorded every drop. 

The third-generation dryland farmer and sheep grazier, who lives in South Australia’s semi-arid Mallee region, has continuous rainfall records for his property dating back to 1899.

“We’ve got an aluminium roof and no insulation in the ceiling, so every drop you count,” he said. 

“Especially when there’s a thunderstorm — it’s deafening.”

Lloyd Castle keeps track of the rain for the BOM.(ABC Rural: Eliza Berlage)

Mr Castle said his home, Wynmour at Notts Well was far enough from towns with automatic weather stations to warrant keeping records manually.

“Somebody had to do it in the area, because the Bureau of Meteorology use that as their guide for predictions with rainfall and climate change,” he said.

Mr Castle is one of about 3,100 volunteer rainfall observers who supply monthly reports to the BOM.

There are numerous locations where records dating back 100 years or more are being kept.

Down more than 20km of unsealed roads among Mallee scrub lies Lloyd’s property, Wynmour.(ABC Rural Eliza Berlage)

Mr Castle’s reports include observations from his farm, including storms, sowing times and lambing successes.

“Even if there hasn’t been any rain you still have to look at nine o’clock gauge every morning and fill in the report to send off,” he said.

In 2001, Mr Castle was recognised by the Australian government for his service with a certificate signed by then-prime minister John Howard.

“I don’t mind doing a bit of community volunteering,” he said.

“I’ve also served with the Blanchetown [Country Fire Service] most of my life.”

Lloyd Castle with the certificate he received in recognition for his service.(ABC Rural: Eliza Berlage)

Life on the land

Mr Castle runs more than 2,000 merino sheep and describes himself as an “opportunistic” grain farmer.

“If we get an inch of rain, we have a go,” he said.

“Not like the continuous croppers that go by April 25 and put it in every year if it’s dry or otherwise.”

Lloyd Castle pulls rye-grass bales off the back of his ute to feed his sheep.(ABC Rural: Eliza Berlage)

Mr Castle has extensive family records dating back to when his great-grandfather emigrated from England to Queensland before settling in South Australia.

His late father Murray, one of 14 children, was the first generation to grow up on the property.

Besides a pet bird, Mr Castle’s main companion has been his dog, Reedy, but he went missing last month.

“I’ve lost my dog, who was my good mate,” he said.

Lloyd’s working dog Reedy went missing last month.(ABC Rural: Eliza Berlage)

Mr Castle’s three adult children are all grown up and his wife Jennifer has been living at a nursing home in Adelaide for the past nine years.

Despite the isolation, photos and notes from his grandchildren fill the walls of his old farmhouse and the radio crackles in the kitchen.

“I like talking on the phone [to my local radio station] or using the UHF and catching up with all the interstate truck drivers, especially when I’m seeding through the night,” Mr Castle said.

“I don’t think I’ve got time to feel alone.”

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